John Hawkes: Second Skin

(2505 words)
  • Rita Ferrari (Independent Scholar - North America)

John Hawkes's novel Second Skin (1964) is narrated by a fifty-nine-year-old ex-naval lieutenant named Skipper who tells his story, writes his “naked history”, in order to counteract and redeem a violent and death-ridden world that victimized him in innumerable ways, large and small, and that robbed him of nearly everyone he loved. In the short chapter “Naming Names” that serves as prologue, Skipper ticks off a litany of the dead: his murdered son-in-law, Fernandez; his father, a mortician who committed suicide when Skipper was a boy; his wife Gertrude, who committed suicide in a cheap motel; and his daughter, Cassandra, who committed suicide in spite of all his efforts to keep her alive. He ends the chapter by describing h…

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Ferrari, Rita. "Second Skin". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 08 January 2001
[, accessed 28 September 2016.]